I have an odd assortment of things I’ve learned while setting up four self-hosted WordPress blogs. The thing that has caused me the most grief has been figuring out how to add a google tracking code to the header of my blog. Why would you even want to do that? It’s like spinach.
Before I explain the spinach, let me explain that to have a successful blog, you’ll want a social media platform and you’ll want to know what drives people to your site. You can’t rely on social media (although it really helps) to get the word out, but you CAN learn to draw people in using key word searches.Learn how to add a meta tag (or a Google tracking code) to the header of your blog. If I can do it, so can you! #bloggingbasics #beginningblogger Click To Tweet
I’ll share a few tips about social media (and you’ll have to learn how to insert a meta tag into the header of your blog to really take advantage of some of them).
The first thing I did when I conceived the idea for my latest blog was so buy the domain (I like using SiteGround) and set up the basic email address (USER@DOMAINNAME.COM). Next, I opened accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as started a page on Facebook. Since the web address is long–www.voicesofnativeyouth.com–I shortened the Twitter handle to @n8vyouth and made the IG name ‘Voices’ and the handle @ofn8vyouth. It took me almost a year to do more than that. Mostly because my students weren’t ready and I didn’t have the energy to tackle the whole ‘add a meta tag to your header’ mystery.
We know that spinach is good for us without going into a detailed analysis of its nutrients. Trust me, starting social media accounts for a new blog is a good thing, too. Using the ol’ spinach analogy, I also know that introducing yourself to Google (ok, not you, your new blog) is a good thing as well.
Those Instructions Read Like Gobbledegook
Of course, the instructions that Google so helpfully leaves on how to start a Google Analytics and a Google Search Console account weren’t written for ordinary people like me. When I first started blogging six years ago, I somehow stumbled upon how to hook up my blog to Google Analytics. I then promptly ignored the fact that I had an account. Somewhere in there, Google changed (they probably even warned me).
About six months ago I wanted to learn more about SEO and how to leverage it to get more visitors to my sites. In order to do this, I had to sign on to Google Analytics and open up a Google Search Console account. I discovered that I didn’t have either for either of my sites. I ended up paying a nice lady to do it all for me (as well as a few other updates).
But I detest paying people for doing things that I could probably figure out on my own. So, when I started another new site (this time for my students), I decided I would figure this out.
What IS Google Search Console? Good question. What IS Spinach? Equally good question. For a newbie, Good Search Console is a thing that makes sure that Google is getting the correct information about your site so that when people search, they can find good information quickly. For a non-nutritionist, Spinach is a leafy green that tastes good raw, baked, or fried. And it’s really good for you.
A Peek at Google Search Console
Once you set up Google Search Console, I have no idea what to do with it. Well, I clicked around a bit and did discover that my top-performing post in the last several months was a recipe for Instant Pot Cuban black beans and rice. So, I guess it will help you discover what sorts of organic searches people type in an end up on your site.
Unless you’re trying to make money through advertising, you probably won’t have to worry about this feature too much. BUT, if you don’t set it up when you start your blog, you might regret it later on. So go ahead, set it up. (As a side note, my most searched and clicked on key word for my caregiver website is ‘cayenne pepper in coffee.’ Go figure. I have some work to do over there!)
The blogging experts will tell you to start setting up Google Search Console by ‘opening your Google account’ (and for a full disclaimer, know that I detest Google. We don’t understand each other and we don’t get along). Since I have five Google accounts, I assume that they mean the one associated with the blog I want to verify. That didn’t help me. All I got was this:
Adding a Google Tracking Code to Your Header
If you want to go to Google Search Console, click this link. Google calls these things ‘webmaster tools,’ but you don’t have to be a webmaster, you can be a granny like me. Once you’re logged in, you’ll click the red button over on the right that says [Add Property]. These steps will walk you through the process of adding a google tracking code to your header (aka an html meta tag). Don’t worry. I’ll walk you through so you don’t end up with hives.
Once you click that button you’ll enter your web address, and this window will pop up:
I chose to use the HTML tag route because, frankly, I had no idea how to upload a file to my website. It took me a few hours, but I figured out how to add the google tracking code to the header of my website. I’m showing you how to save you time and money. When you click on the ‘HTML tag’ box, you’ll see something like this:
Now, you’ll go to your website’s dashboard (I use a self-hosted WordPress site, so my instructions will reflect what I know).
Once you’ve clicked on [Editor], you’ll see something like this:
Now you’ll see a page that looks like this:
Click anywhere between the <head> tags and paste the google tracking code. Make sure you click the blue [Update File] box at the bottom of the page. Now you’ll go back to Google Search Console and click [Verify]. It should take less than a minute for Google to verify that you own the property (site).
Rinse and Repeat for Google Analytics and Pinterest
Once you’ve mastered adding a meta tag (Surprise! That’s what you actually did) for Google Search Console, you’ll want to do the same thing for Google Analytics and Pinterest business. To get to Google Analytics, click here (or type in www.analytics.google.com. You’ll see a window like this:
Fill in the information and click on the blue [Get Tracking ID] box at the bottom of the page. You’ll see something like this:
Now, you’ll go BACK to you website and click on [Appearance], then [Editor], and find the [header.php] and click somewhere between the [<head>] tags and paste the gtag code. Make sure you click the blue [Update File] box at the bottom of the page. Bravo! You’ve learned how to add a google tracking code to the header of your blog. It works for other tracking codes, too.
If you open a Pinterest business account (and you should because it’s free and it’s like spinach), they will lead you through a similar process that involves pasting code (a meta tag) into the header section of your website. But by now, you’re an old pro at stuff like this. You shouldn’t break out in hives. Shouldn’t.
A word of caution. Before I change ANYTHING in the code of my website, I take a screen shot of what it looks like AND I copy and paste what’s on the page before me. That way, if I really mess things up, I have a record of what I removed or changed and can go back and start over. Call it overkill, but I’d rather be safe than sorry!